‘I knew no other life’

The newest cutter – to be commissioned this weekend – is named in honor of the keeper of Black Rock Harbor Light, Kathleen “Kate” Moore. It was 1817 when Moore first stood the watch. She was 12. While she wasn’t a full keeper of the light at the time, her father tended the light after a shipboard injury prevented him from going to sea. As Moore grew older, and her father’s health worsened, she took on keeper duties, although she was not officially appointed as head keeper until 1871.

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Capt. Ed Cubanski, commander of Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound, left, and Charles “Skip” Bowen, vice president of government relations at Bollinger Shipyards and former master chief petty officer of the Coast Guard, along with members from Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound’s Color Guard, stand behind a grave marker dedicated to former keeper Kathleen Moore at the Mountain Grove Cemetery in Bridgeport, Conn. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jetta H. Disco.
Capt. Ed Cubanski, commander of Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound, left, and Charles “Skip” Bowen, vice president of government relations at Bollinger Shipyards and former master chief petty officer of the Coast Guard, along with members from Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound’s Color Guard, stand behind a grave marker dedicated to former keeper Kathleen Moore at the Mountain Grove Cemetery in Bridgeport, Conn. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jetta H. Disco.

The Sentinel-class fast response cutter is a “game changer” for the Coast Guard. The 154-foot cutters, built by Bollinger Shipyards, provide the Coast Guard with critical mission capabilities essential to safeguarding the nation’s shores.

Black Rock Harbor Light. U.S. Coast Guard photo.
Black Rock Harbor Light. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Just as impressive as the platform itself, however, is each cutter’s namesake. The fast response cutters are named for Coast Guard enlisted heroes in honor of their service and humbling acts of bravery.

The newest cutter – to be commissioned this weekend – is named in honor of the keeper of Black Rock Harbor Light, Kathleen “Kate” Moore. It was 1817 when Moore first stood the watch. She was 12. While she wasn’t a full keeper of the light at the time, her father tended the light after a shipboard injury prevented him from going to sea. As Moore grew older, and her father’s health worsened, she took on keeper duties, although she was not officially appointed as head keeper until 1871.

During her tenure as keeper, Moore was once asked by a reporter about the perils she encountered at Black Rock Harbor.

“You see, I had done all this for so many years, and I knew no other life, so I was sort of fitted for it,” Moore replied.

Moore retired from service in 1878 at the age of 84 and is officially credited with saving 21 lives. As keeper, Moore devoted her life to those on the sea. And it was to the sea in which dozens gathered yesterday for a dedication ceremony and for what Marc Stanley, an executive vice president at Bollinger Shipyards, called “unfinished business.”

It’s been 115 years since Moore passed; however, her grave had never been properly marked.

“Each one of these fast response cutter commissionings have taken on a life of its own in relation to each hero family’s unique story,” wrote Charles Bowen, retired master chief petty officer of the Coast Guard and vice president of government relations at Bollinger Shipyards, before the ceremony. “Kathleen accomplished so much and saved so many lives, but during her lifetime many of her accomplishments were not given the recognition they deserved. In the end she wasn’t even afforded a gravestone.”

Petty Officer 2nd Class Steven Ingram and Petty Officer 2nd Class Andrew Cole, members of Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound's Color Guard perform a flag folding detail of the national ensign during the grave marker dedication ceremony for the former. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jetta H. Disco.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Steven Ingram and Petty Officer 2nd Class Andrew Cole, members of Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound’s Color Guard perform a flag folding detail of the national ensign during the grave marker dedication ceremony for the former. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jetta H. Disco.

Without any surviving family, Stanley and a team at Bollinger wanted to bond the ship’s crew with the heroine the ship was named for.

“We just wanted to connect a wonderful hero to a wonderful crew; to make sure that legacy is connected,” said Stanley.

“The crew can learn from the past and take it into the future,” added Stanley.

As the group gathered to honor Moore in this same seaside community in which she served, a spring rainstorm moved through the area, shifting the ceremony indoors. It was dreadful weather for an outdoors event, but perfect weather to honor Moore; the rain reminiscent of the storms, foul weather and bleak skies in which Kate so boldly served.

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